Starbucks workers who strike in support of unionizing will be protected by a Strike and Defense Fund, to which the Workers United union has committed $1 million in funding to replace wages and benefits that could be lost during a labor action.
The unionization initiative has expanded in recent months even in the face of company resistance. Workers United has accused Starbucks of violating U.S. labor laws through anti-union conduct by filing approximately 180 Unfair Labor Practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board.
“In establishing this fund, we want Starbucks partners to know that we have their backs, and are solidly behind them as they bravely organize and negotiate for better working conditions in their workplace,” said Lynne Fox, International President of Workers United in a statement.
There have been 100 Starbucks stores in 25 states that have unionized. According to CNBC, 88% of stores have favored unionization, with only 14 locations voting against this type of move. Approximately 120 additional locations are currently voting or awaiting elections.
“This strike fund will allow all workers to take the type of collective action necessary as they fight for a fair contract,” said Richard Minter, International Organizing Director for Workers United in a statement. “Partners should know, if they don’t already, that they have the full support of an international union behind them.”
In an effort to encourage employees to bypass unionization, Starbucks committed to starting pay of $15 per hour beginning Aug. 1, 2022. Employees hired prior to May 2, 2022 will receive a 3% raise or their hourly rate will increase to $15 per hour, whichever figure is higher. Starbucks also has offered a 5% raise (or 5% increase above the market start rate) for employees who have worked with the company for two to five years. Those associates with seniority of five or more years on the job will be afforded an increase of at least 7%, or 10% above the market start rate. The company also has committed to enhanced training, beginning June 21 for baristas and shift supervisors Aug. 30. These changes apply only to Starbucks locations that have not unionized.